Ion Channel Contributions to Wing Development in Drosophila melanogaster

G3 (Bethesda). 2019 Apr 9;9(4):999-1008. doi: 10.1534/g3.119.400028.


During morphogenesis, cells communicate with each other to shape tissues and organs. Several lines of recent evidence indicate that ion channels play a key role in cellular signaling and tissue morphogenesis. However, little is known about the scope of specific ion-channel types that impinge upon developmental pathways. The Drosophila melanogaster wing is an excellent model in which to address this problem as wing vein patterning is acutely sensitive to changes in developmental pathways. We conducted a screen of 180 ion channels expressed in the wing using loss-of-function mutant and RNAi lines. Here we identify 44 candidates that significantly impacted development of the Drosophila melanogaster wing. Calcium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and ligand-gated cation channels were all identified in our screen, suggesting that a wide variety of ion channel types are important for development. Ion channels belonging to the pickpocket family, the ionotropic receptor family, and the bestrophin family were highly represented among the candidates of our screen. Seven new ion channels with human orthologs that have been implicated in human channelopathies were also identified. Many of the human orthologs of the channels identified in our screen are targets of common general anesthetics, anti-seizure and anti-hypertension drugs, as well as alcohol and nicotine. Our results confirm the importance of ion channels in morphogenesis and identify a number of ion channels that will provide the basis for future studies to understand the role of ion channels in development.

Keywords: Drosophilia; Ion channels; bioelectricity; channelopathy; wing development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Ion Channels / genetics
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • RNA Interference
  • Wings, Animal / growth & development*
  • Wings, Animal / metabolism


  • Ion Channels

Associated data

  • figshare/10.25387/g3.7640345